It’s summer, and finding the appropriate workwear shorts can be essential for both comfort and functionality on the job. You’ll need something tough enough to handle work, but comfortable enough not to be a literal pain the in the you-know-what.
*This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. (info)
These are our choices for the best workwear shorts:
- Carhartt Men’s Cotton Canvas Work Shorts (click here to view)
- Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ripstop Ranger Cargo Short (click here to view)
- Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Carpenter Short (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s 13 Inch Loose Fit Multi-Pocket Work Short (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Cotton Ripstop Cargo Work Short (click here to view)
- Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Shorts (click here to view)
- Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- Tru-Spec Men’s 24-7 Series Cargo Tactical Shorts (click here to view)
- Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Cargo Short (click here to view)
- Walls Men’s 11″ Performance Short (click here to view)
- Wrangler Authentics Men’s Performance Comfort Flex Waist Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- *Big & Tall* Boulder Creek® Ripstop Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Red Ants Pants Original Work Shorts (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short (click here to view)
- *Women’s* Dickies Women’s 11″ Relaxed Stretch Cargo Shorts (click here to view)
There’s quite a bit to consider when shopping for the best work shorts. You’ll need to decide what type of material you prefer (100% cotton vs stretch), and you’ll need to decide what length of inseam fits you best. Of course, the type and amount of pockets can also vary, and may affect your decision.
I own many of the shorts off this list, so I can give you my experience with them, including photos. Although I own several heavy-duty work shorts, I also wear the Wrangler Comfort Flex Shorts (#11 on list) a lot because I like lightweight work shorts when it gets extremely hot.
Many workwear shorts will have a gusset to help increase comfort and freedom of movement.
In this article let’s take a closer look at the best workwear shorts on this list, including photos of the shorts that I own. Let’s also discuss what things you’ll want to consider when buying work shorts.
Best Workwear Shorts
Carhartt Men’s 10″ Canvas Work Shorts
Carhartt is synonymous with workwear. When you think of Carhartt, you think of tough, cotton canvas.
In the middle of summer, perhaps you want that canvas toughness, but not the heavyweight 12-ounce fabric that retains heat. These shorts use a lighter-weight 7.5-ounce cotton canvas fabric which will allow your legs to breathe a little bit.
Here’s what these shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Carhartt workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – Made of lightweight 7.5-ounce, 100% ring-spun cotton with sewn-on-seam belt loops, this canvas carpenter short delivers a rugged sturdiness but with summer-friendly comfort.
- Fit – Cut with a generous fit throughout the seat and thigh and a 10-inch inseam. In my experience, true to size and wasn’t too tight or too baggy.
- Pockets – Offering all the storage you could need for tools and essentials, there is a left leg ruler pocket; a right leg tool pocket; two front pockets; and two heavy-hauling back pockets that are reinforced to prevent blow-out.
- Tool Loops – These shorts have two tool loops. On the left leg they have a traditional carpenter hammer loop, and on the right leg they have a utility band. Pictures below.
As I mentioned above, Carhartt’s heavyweight cotton canvas is made with a 12-ounce fabric. These shorts use a lighter-weight 7.5 ounce cotton canvas.
The 7.5-ounce cotton is awesome because it is a nice blend of toughness and comfort. The canvas fabric can stand up to tough work conditions, but the lightweight material lets your legs breathe a little bit.
In my experience, these shorts fit true to size. Here I am wearing these Carhartt shorts:
For being canvas work shorts, the overall weight of these shorts is reasonable since they are made with lighter-weight 7.5-ounce fabric. Here’s the weight of my size 32:
Here is a close-up look at the material of these shorts:
As you can see, it has that canvas look to it. Expect toughness, just don’t expect these to be super heavyweight (which is a good thing for summer). These shorts use a traditional button closure, zip fly.
These shorts have two tool loops, one on each side of the shorts:
Click here to buy these Carhartt canvas workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Ripstop Ranger Cargo Short
Many are familiar with Wrangler, but did you know Wrangler has a specific line of apparel dedicated to work clothing called Wrangler Riggs Workwear? And if you prefer a cargo pockets for work, they make what I consider to be the best heavy duty cargo work shorts.
Here’s what these Wrangler Riggs Men’s Ranger Shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Wrangler workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – The Ranger cargo short is an ideal option for surviving summer days on a tough jobsite. Resistant to rips and tears, the 10-ounce ripstop cotton construction features reinforced contrast taping on the pockets for enhanced durability.
- Pockets – These shorts have two front pockets, two rear pockets (lined with 1000-Denier DuPont Cordura), two cargo pockets with button snap flaps, an oversized watch pocket, and a right-leg hammer loop.
- Fit – In my experience, these shorts fit true to size. They have a relaxed fit through the seat and thigh along with a gusseted crotch for increased range of movement.
- What Makes These Shorts Unique – Toughness. In my experience, these are the most well-rounded cargo work shorts for durability. Made with 10-ounce ripstop fabric, they have Cordura lined back pockets, and a tape measure reinforcement on the front pocket.
These are my go-to heavy-duty cargo work shorts (I also have a lightweight short I will wear that we discuss later). These shorts are made with a dependable material that, in my experience, holds up well over time.
As mentioned above, these shorts have a crotch gusset that provides extra space for comfortable bending and crouching:
These are sturdy workwear shorts, and my size 32 weighs well over a pound:
If you prefer lightweight work shorts, I’d recommend skipping to the Wrangler Comfort Flex shorts we discuss later. I also own those shorts and they only weigh half as much as these shorts.
But the main takeaway is these shorts are built to last. Not only are they made with ripstop fabric and have a tape measure reinforcement on the front pocket, they also have durable back pockets that are lined with 1000 denier DuPont Cordura:
Click here to buy these Wrangler work shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). In my experience, these shorts fit true to size.
Wrangler Riggs Workwear Men’s Carpenter Short
Wrangler Riggs Workwear also has popular carpenter shorts that are very similar to the Wrangler Riggs Ranger shorts we just discussed, only these shorts don’t have cargo pockets.
Here’s what these Wrangler Carpenter Shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Wrangler carpenter workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – Built for both utility and maximum comfort, these shorts are made with 100% cotton ripstop (denim version is not ripstop). Triple-needle stitching in the important areas for reinforcement. A 10.5-inch inseam provides sufficient coverage down near the knee.
- Gusset – These shorts have a diamond shaped gusset confined to the crotch area. The gusset does not run the length of the leg and is hard to see while wearing these shorts.
- Pockets – These shorts have two front scoop pockets, two Cordura®-lined back pockets, an oversized watch pocket, and one right leg cell phone utility pocket.
- Tool Loops – Yes, these shorts have a hammer loop on the right leg and a utility band on the left leg.
These are my go-to denim work shorts. Here’s what mine look like:
As you can see, just like the Wrangler Ranger shorts we covered earlier, these shorts have that diamond-shaped crotch gusset that gives you extra breathing room when bending and crouching.
These shorts have a classic carpenter design. They are built to last, and also have the Cordura-lined back pockets:
In my experience, these shorts fit true to size. They have a relaxed fit that won’t hug tight against your legs. Here’s the weight of my size 32:
Click here to buy these Wrangler Riggs workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts
Okay, I’ve mentioned it throughout, but I like to turn to a super lightweight work short when the weather turns brutally hot. I understand that lightweight work shorts might not make sense for all jobs, so I ranked these shorts a bit lower on our list. But for me, they really help.
Here’s what these Wrangler Comfort Flex shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Wrangler cargo shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Comfort – These shorts, in my opinion, feel almost as lightweight as swim trunks, and that’s why I like them. In my experience, still tough enough for most types of work. Overall, a nice blend of lightweight and toughness.
- Fit – These shorts have a relaxed fit in the seat and thighs. They do not hug tight against your legs (but also aren’t obnoxiously loose). That relaxed fit in combination with the flex fabric makes these easy to wear. They have a 10″ inseam.
- Pockets – As we discussed earlier, pockets are usually essential for work shorts. These Wrangler shorts have 2 cargo zip pockets, 2 slash front hand pockets, and 2 back pockets.
Here I am wearing these Wrangler Authentics Lightweight Comfort Flex Cargo Shorts:
These are the shorts that I turn to probably the most during summer because I prefer lightweight shorts, especially on extremely hot days. So why aren’t they at the top of this list?
Well, again, these are a lightweight option. Yes, I personally prefer a lightweight work short, but many people need something heavier in weight. All the workwear shorts we covered above will have a bit more toughness than these shorts, and therefore might make more sense for more jobs.
In my experience, they still have enough toughness to handle most types of jobs, but some jobs may need heavier material.
Again, they feel so lightweight and won’t weigh you down. My size 32 shorts only weigh 0.66 pounds:
That’s like half the weight of some of the other options on this list.
The moisture wicking fabric can help you stay dry while you sweat in the brutal summer heat. The fabric is also rated UPF 30, so it will also provide some protection from the sun.
Here is a close-up look at the material on these stretch shorts. Again, although it is a lightweight material, it still has a bit of toughness to it.
One thing to note about these shorts, is they have a snap button front. This may affect your decision, so I wanted to make sure I pointed it out.
Overall, it fits very comfortably around the waist. The belt loops have quality stitching:
One other thing I like about these shorts is they don’t have huge, bulky cargo pockets. They instead use low-profile zipper pockets. If you like low-profile pockets, visit our article about the best cargo shorts with zipper pockets.
These shorts are great for summer and really allow your legs to breathe in the hot weather. Obviously, they won’t be as tough as super heavyweight canvas shorts, but there has to be a trade-off at times when the heat reaches triple digits.
Click here to buy these Wrangler Comfort Flex Shorts at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Again, in my experience these shorts fit true-to-size.
Dickies Men’s Tough Max Duck Carpenter Shorts
Do you prefer a stretch canvas to give you added flexibility? If so, these Dickies shorts are one of my favorite work shorts because they provide flexibility without compromising the toughness of the shorts.
Here’s what these shorts look like:
This is the current price of these Dickies flex workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). Here’s what you need to know about these shorts:
- Material – Need something durable but don’t want it stiff? These shorts use a 9-ounce duck, cotton/polyester/spandex fabric blend that gives you a durable fabric that is also comfortable and flexible. Dickies’ “Tough Max” fabric provides two times the strength and durability, as well as abrasion resistance, than an all-cotton fabric.
- Tool Loop – These shorts have a hammer loop on the left leg.
- Pockets – Two front scoop hand pockets and two rear pockets. Dual tool utility pockets on the right leg for storing basic work essentials and/or your phone.
- Fit – The regular, modern work fit sits slightly below the natural waist. The 11-inch inseam hits below the knee, providing excellent coverage.
The main takeaway with these shorts is they use a stretch fabric blend to give you a combination of toughness and flexibility. It’s easy for me to bend and kneel while wearing these shorts:
That said, the material itself still feels like a canvas fabric. This is not flimsy material. It still has plenty of toughness for a work site:
Overall, it’s also a lightweight short that won’t weigh you down. Here’s the weight of my size 32:
Standard front and back on these shorts with side dual utility pockets on the right leg, and a tool loop on the left leg:
Again, if you prefer a little bit of stretch in your work shorts, these shorts (or the Carhartt shorts we discuss next) are a great option. But don’t expect these shorts to feel like gym shorts.
Yes, there is flexibility, but it is just enough to matter. The overall toughness of the shorts is not compromised. When I put these shorts on, they still have that canvas feel to them.
Click here to buy these Dickies stretch canvas workwear shorts available at Amazon (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com). These shorts are machine washable.
Other Workwear Shorts to Consider
- Carhartt Men’s Rugged Flex Rigby Cargo Short – If you prefer a flexible fabric, but still want a heavy duty work short, these shorts are a great blend of flexibility and toughness. These shorts are made with an 8.5-ounce cotton/spandex blend. Relaxed fit that doesn’t hug tight against your legs. Click here to view these Carhart workwear shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
- Duluth Trading Co. Men’s DuluthFlex Fire Hose 11″ Cargo Shorts – Duluth Trading Co. is another trusted name in workwear, and they are well-known for making comfortable workwear. These shorts have the “Fire Hose” material for toughness, but also have spandex added for flexibility. They have 11 total pockets and a relaxed fit that won’t hug tight. Gusset added to crotch for extra comfort. Click here to view these Duluth workwear shorts.
- *Big & Tall* Boulder Creek® Ripstop Cargo Shorts – Do you need extended sizing? These Boulder Creek shorts are offered up to a size 68 waist and are made with a durable ripstop fabric. Side-elastic panels on the waist for extra comfort. These shorts feature cargo pockets and two secure zip pockets for storing essentials. Click here to view these Boulder Creek shorts (affiliate link takes you to kingsize.com).
- *Women’s* Red Ants Pants Original Work Shorts – Red Ants Pants is a premium women’s workwear brand that makes their clothes here in the USA. This is a focused brand that offers workwear essentials, including these durable canvas shorts. Made with heavy-duty 12-ounce cotton canvas, these shorts are offered in both a curvy and straight fit. Click here to view these gusseted work shorts by Red Ants Pants.
- *Women’s* Carhartt Women’s Rugged Flex Original Work Short – If you shopping for women’s cargo work shorts, these Carhartt Rugged Flex shorts are a nice option. Made with an 8.5-ounce flex fabric blend, these shorts are built with a mid-rise that sits just below the waist. Cargo pockets, utility pockets, and tool loop. Click here to view these Carhartt women’s cargo workwear shorts (affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).
4 Things to Consider When Buying Workwear Shorts
Do you prefer 100% cotton canvas or would you like a stretch fabric blend that increases flexibility and range of motion? Our list contains both options.
Stretch work fabrics have gained popularity over recent years because they increase freedom of movement, and are more comfortable to wear. To see more options, visit our article about the best stretch shorts for work. For a flexible waist, visit our article about the best elastic waist work shorts.
But some people prefer 100% cotton, and there are instances where 100% cotton canvas can be more durable than a stretch fabric. If you prefer canvas, visit our article about the best canvas work shorts.
You’ll also want to consider the weight of the material. As I mentioned throughout, I personally turn to a lightweight workwear short when the temperature gets brutally hot. For summer options, visit our article about the best work shorts for summer.
How many pockets do you need? Having too many pockets can be overkill and just add bulk and weight to your work shorts. That doesn’t help anyone. But not having enough pockets can be a problem too.
Many shorts will have a traditional carpenter work short design, with dual utility pockets on one leg that can store basic work essentials or your phone. In our list, we included both carpenter shorts and cargo shorts.
If you prefer cargo shorts, visit our article about the best cargo work shorts.
You will definitely want to consider the inseam of these shorts. Obviously, your height matters, but a 10″ inseam will often hit near the top of the knee.
If you prefer a longer inseam, visit our article about the tall cargo shorts.
If you prefer long-fitting shorts, we have a couple options on our list that have 11-inch inseams. Most work shorts have a loose, relaxed fit. If you prefer slim, visit our article about the best slim fit work shorts.
Yes, workwear shorts are usually quite tough, but one drawback is they can be a bit stiff. As we discussed earlier, buying a stretch fabric blend is one way to combat this.
Another way to improve the range of motion that you have in you work shorts is to buy shorts that have a built-in crotch gusset. A crotch gusset is a diamond-shaped piece of material sewn into the crotch area to provide extra space for bending and crouching.
Several workwear shorts on our list have a crotch gusset, including the Wrangler Riggs shorts we discussed in detail earlier. To read more about gussets, visit our article about the best gusseted shorts for work.